The Techie Way to Travel

Abhijit Mishra, Regional Director, KAYAK Abhijit is responsible for overseeing & developing the brand’s business for India & Middle East. He has experience in the fields of Content Marketing & PR, Business Development & Sales, Social Media & Performance Marketing, and many others. He has been awarded as the '50 Best Digital Marketing Professionals Awards' by World Marketing Congress & CMO Asia.

In today’s times, technology has completely revolutionized our lives – from the moment we wake-up to the time we go to sleep (in fact, even while sleeping now!), technology has become an essential part of the way in which we function. In this backdrop, the impact of technology has seeped into the tourism & travel industry, as well. Technology has transformed the industry, both, for the consumers and the service providers.

Just a few years ago, most Indian travelers were planning their holidays by visiting a travel agent, and would need to rely on their own memory and notes to manage their travel itineraries. These days, new developments in consumer technology mean everything is easily accessible within just a few clicks. Travelers can book their own flights & hotels online, and even find short stays at holiday homes owned by locals via travel search engines. Advancement in technology has also created new business opportunities and changed the way service providers work, as everything becomes more connected than ever before. Travelers are not just becoming smarter, but the ever-expanding digital population has led to a surge in the number of online travelers who depend highly on technology for memorable travel experiences.

Travelers are Becoming Smarter
With increasing internet penetration & smartphone adoption, India is at the cusp of a technological revolution. Developments in technology have led to some huge changes, both in the economy and in human behaviour. According to a report by Zenith, there are now about 300 million smartphone users in India. The smartphone revolution has transformed the traveling experience in many exciting ways. From online bookings to digital boarding passes and remote check-ins, the internet & smartphones have made travel bookings available anytime, anywhere. A recent survey that we had done on travelers’ behavior noted that 46 percent Indian travelers have booked a trip, while on their phone just before going to sleep, and 46 percent have booked a trip, while working in the office, further proving that travel bookings are no longer limited by time & space.
Smartphones support all the functions we rely on when traveling. Whether helping us avoid a traffic jam or leading us off the beaten path to explore the small lanes of a city, there’s bound to be an app that can cater to our needs. There are even translation & language learning apps for those of us wishing to communicate with locals, helping to break down what used to seem like impenetrable barriers. Such applications have increased the convenience of traveling, revolutionizing the way we consume information and curating our experiences. As service providers, making travel easier and more enjoyable is at the heart of what we do. We focus on the mobile experience, while maintaining seamlessness across devices. Many travelers find it simpler to make travel bookings on desktop, but then refer to their phones for travel information, while on the go. That’s why we think smart tools like Trips (managing travelers’ itineraries and providing real-time alerts on flight schedules,check-in information and many more) really bring alive the convenience of technology in the way today’s consumer travels.

"The smartphone revolution has transformed the traveling experience in many exciting ways. From online bookings to digital boarding passes and remote check-ins, the internet & smartphones have made travel bookings available anytime, anywhere."

The Ever-Expanding Digital Population
Earlier, travel agents were the go-to for hotel & flight bookings, but now online travel aggregators act as a one-stop shop for booking flights, hotels and even car rentals, giving travelers a convenient way to compare booking options when planning a trip. According to a report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB International, internet penetration in India is now at 31 percent, and that number will continue to increase in the coming years as the digital population expands. It seems certain that the amount of online travelers is only set to increase.

Internet penetration has opened-up numerous benefits for travelers. Booking online means that travelers can avoid costly commissions to traditional travel agents, and simply pay for the travel products they purchase, making travel more affordable. Furthermore, increased access to information has led to a rise in interest in discovering less explored destinations. According to some of our data at KAYAK, many Indian travelers are venturing to less-talked-about destinations such as Cairo, Venice and Prague. Data from aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) shows that India’s domestic air passenger traffic has almost doubled from 51 million passengers in 2010 up to 99.88 million in 2016, owing to lowering airfares and growing demand, benefitting both consumers & service providers.

Artificial Intelligence - The Way Forward
Developments in technology are happening at a much faster pace than anyone had anticipated. While everyone had thought technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Augmented Reality are a far-fetched reality, they are becoming a part of the mainstream and will influence our lives tremendously in the near future. In my opinion, from all these fast-developing technologies, AI is changing the way travelers plan and manage their trips. AI works using predictive analysis, creating highly tailored offers based on consumers’ personal preferences. Travel booking sites and other digital platforms can auto-generate suitable content for users according to their usual online search behavior in order to better match their needs. The potential for AI to transform the travel experience is massive, from chatbots helping to answer users’ questions to predictive rate caching for hotels & flights, allowing for more accurate fare modeling and flight price prediction. AI also allows us to make personalized suggestions for travelers, such as tailored-hotel recommendations based on currently available deals.

Developments in technology have led to some huge changes, both in the economy and in human behaviour. Now companies must adapt to this ever-changing world, integrate new technologies, and pass on the benefits to travelers.